Taking stock. Ethereum at $100 & the stories along the way.

Ethereum recently bounced against the $100 mark. The blockchain is in euphoria mode again. As these things go, it might halve again, or just continue going. $100 is pretty arbitrary, but it offers a nice point to just sit back and reflect. We are here. It’s gotten to this point. Let’s look back and look at the map for the journey ahead.

Personally, I’m not quite sure how to process it. It usually borders on something close to tearing up. It’s an incredible validation. A deep belief that this technology will change the world for the better, and we are still (somewhat) on the right path. For you see:

At the end of 2014, after taking almost year off (living off my savings, Bitcoin & Dogecoin), working on my own cryptocurrency/blockchain projects, my money was starting to run out. My father recently told me how worried he became of me during that year. I had moved back home, asking them to support me. I was hunkered in my hoodie up in my room, working till 2–3am in the evenings.

I sold my side projects and had to go get some last Bitcoin & Dogecoin out of cold storage to sell. ¾ through 2014, I decided: you know what? This isn’t working. Maybe I should just join a company I don’t like, doing dev work to stay afloat, or start something that’s less crazy? I did try that for 2 weeks (thinking of doing a whiskey-subscription business) and then I wrote something in my journal:

“It feels like a cop out. Like I’m settling for 2nd fiddle. I’ve achieved a lot and always felt that I could do more… much more. I *am* doing a lot. It’s just that it feels kind of shit to take year off and not be in the position to properly “launch” myself. It feels like one of the few times where I’ve tried really hard, and disappointed myself.
I’m annoyed. Always been annoyed that I’ve had ideas and it seems no one listens. Not really. My desire has always been that I want to bring ideas and projects to fruition: to create, experiment and enact. How do I keep doing that?!”

It was to be a boom or bust. I was going to ride my savings till the end, and then I really didn’t know what I was going to do.

By a stroke of serendipity, Ashley Taylor found me on Reddit around October 2014, after I enquired about potentially joining Ethereum itself. I still remember, talking to Ashley & Joe at the end of 2014, with them in a tiny co-working space, and Joe telling me: “All those blogs you wrote. All those ideas. We want to build all of that.”

An early all-hands at ConsenSys -> somewhere early 2015.

I was a bit stunned. I finished up some contract work that fell on my lap, and then joined ConsenSys as one of the first 5–10 people in January 2015.

I captured a second of each in 2014 and stitched it together. You can see that pretty much of the shots is just me at home with a #sunsetwhiskey.

After almost 2,5 years at ConsenSys, I try to remember the position I was in. A kid from Cape Town, trying to punch his way into the world with his crazy ideas. Most of the ideas are still likely crazy (meme markets?!), but at least I’m around equally crazy folk now. I was giving up hope, and worried about the despondent state I would’ve potentially fallen into. I’m extremely, extremely grateful that Joe gave me a chance. Thank you Joe. Really.

Now, I’m 27, and I *know* I will remember the excitement of all these days. I’m extremely mindful about it: just trying to take it all in. I took some photos along the way.

Talking blockchain & music at Midem 2015.
Working from Ethereum HQ before Frontier. May 2015.
Taking a shelfie from the airbnb in Berlin. 2015.
Celebrating Frontier launch with a #sunsetwhiskey. 30 July 2015.
First Cape Town Ethereum Meetup. August 2015. 3 people pitched up.
Working in airports trying to finish Ujo Tiny Human prototype in time.
devcon1 shenanigans in London on our way to Vinay Gupta’s pad.
devcon2, sharing in wines we brought from all over the world in the lobby of the Astor.
Discussing curation markets with Maciej in Shanghai at devcon2.
The Proof-of-Stake cool kids table at COALA Nairobi. December 2015.

I spoke to Greg McMullen (from BigchainDB) in Nairobi at the COALA workshops recently, talking about where we are finding ourselves. I told him that we are still at the cusp of what’s going to happen. The inflection point hasn’t even started yet. I also told him at the last day of the workshop over a sunset whiskey that I’m tired and exhausted. I feel like I need to slow down. This was prescient because I burned out shortly after, being man down with exhaustion for 4 days.

The problem is, is that the longer I am in this space, the more exciting it gets, the more there is to build and experiment with. Despite being tired, I have to get out of my hotel and join in on the conversation where the craziest, smartest people are discussing consensus algorithms over beer.

I remember the kid from 2014 and how much I wanted to be at this frontier. And now we are all here. And the spirit is still alive. I am extremely privileged, grateful and feel immensely lucky. The unbridled potential is still unfurling and it’s so exciting to watch and be a part of.

A lot of stories have been told so far.

The road ahead.

It’s easy to revel in price euphoria. It’s easy to fall into hubris. There’s a bunch of (awesome) nerds who have suddenly gotten rich. You have more power now, but don’t let that cause you to think you know what’s going on.

We are in control of something that is extremely powerful for good and bad. We have a responsibility to make sure we chart our grand, shared artefact to the benefit of all of humanity. It would be pretty stupid if it just ends being a new oligarchy after it’s all done.

Ethereum at $100 is just a pat on the back. Remember that it still could go up in smoke tomorrow (however unlikely it seems). We have only really just started. The road ahead will be exciting, treacherous, but above all, it will remain exciting. There’s a lot more fellow travelers on the road now. There’s a lot more stories to tell. As the platitude goes:

If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.

There’s a lot more to build still. I’m excited to keep going along this journey with you all. Despite how exciting this all is, remember to take stock. Get up from the computer, enjoy the sunset, see friends, lovers and family.


PS. I will be New York, talking at Ethereal & Token Summit this month. Come say hi!